trash and treasure


This is the post where my blog stats will go through the roof, a total blip on the seismograph. I’m predicting it now. For no other reason than I am going to mention s*x. And if there’s one thing people search on…

But let me start somewhere else. I’ll get around to the sex part in good time (although if you’ve wound up here by accident, looking for something salacious, then I’d move on right now).

By virtue of what I do – work in IT – and just because of a general curiosity about the technosocial landscape*- I often find myself marvelling at the sprawling great thing that is the internet and trying to conjure metaphors and analogies for it. My most favourite physical evocation/parody of the web is Dave Chappelle’s internet skit. Damn it’s funny, and kinda true.

I love the internet. I love its beauty and its shoddiness. The uncanny serendipity and the glorious smut of it. The strange juxtaposition of breaking news and fat women in white knickers. The epilepsy-inducing pop-ups and those dastardly Nigerian scamsters. The starbursts and strobing banner ads all mixed up with the poetry of Wordsworth, say. It’s outrageous. It’s wonderful. 

It’s one big giant mess of warped context, bad grammar and sickeningly infinite possibilities. It’s sensational and voyeuristic, the not-so-incognito domain of five-minute fame and deferred loneliness. The place where hubris runs unchecked and falls from grace are spectacular, and spectacularly public. It’s all schadenfreude and porn and a ringtone for every song you’ve ever heard (and will never want to again, after the ringtone hits town).

I love finding things. I almost love losing them again moments later, and my impossible internet goldfish brain. I am still a bit dubious about my weird compulsion to reach for the gold shiny thing in my wallet and wake up in the morning only to remember I am now the proud owner of something I don’t need. Or worse, something I don’t even want in the logical light of day.

There’s so much trash, and so much treasure. That’s the thing.

I grew up in Otahuhu, South Auckland, NZ. A pretty dangerous neighbourhood and sometimes the clothes would get stolen off our clothesline. Someone got stabbed at our local McDonalds and we never went there again. But the thing was, I didn’t have a rugged childhood at all. I grew up within a green, very English gated community within Otahuhu, totally at odds with everything outside its walls. I guess you could say I was protected and privileged. I went to school in the city. 

As children you can pretty much reconcile anything. It was just how things were. One world in here, one world out there. We were allowed to walk to the dairy at the top of Golf Road but no further, and only in a group.

Anyway, in Otahuhu itself there was a colossal barn, an emporium of sorts, called Trash ‘n Treasure. Sometimes, even to this day, I still fantasise about it. It pulled no punches. It housed exactly what it said it did: trash and treasure. Some nights I lie there trying to remember all the rows of wares. Buttons, imported junk, ceramic elephants, net curtains. That kind of thing. It was like a very early prototype for the $2 Shop, but on a far grander scale.

I think that was the moment when I fell in love with trash. Or maybe, more correctly, I fell in love with sifting through all that junk and siphoning out the treasure amongst it. I think that’s maybe where my first impulse to collect came from.

Tonight on my way home from work it dawned on me that the internet is a similar kind of triumph of bric-a-brac. It’s just like Trash ‘n Treasure.

I drove through Otahuhu for some reason not so long ago (maybe on a detour to the airport?). Trash ‘n Treasure shut up shop years ago, but for some reason I just wanted to do a drive-by and remember it being where it was.

I find some awesome shit on the internet, is what I am trying to say. My current favourite is, specifically Stephen Elliott, whose emails I receive every morning, along with Seth Godin’s. Both are high points of my working day.

Today a nice man gave me a self-hypnosis file just for doing him a small favour. I started playing it at work, just out of curiosity, but had to stop as it was putting me to sleep. I reckon Twitter is the best advertising in my world. Yesterday I literally ran from the office to buy a book I heard about via tweet. It was this new one, by Rachel McAlpine (the woman whose web words coaxed me through a mammoth deep-end of a web project last year, quite coincidentally).

Just before home time today I succombed to the velvety clutches of Amazon and bought as many Stephen Elliott and Seth Godin books as I thought was acceptable. One of which was My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats me Up.

Which leads me onto the sex thing. Lately I have been doing a bit of research, let’s say, although I can’t say too much about that right now or I may give some upcoming stuff away. The whole writing sex thing intrigues me. I really like talking to other writers about writing sex scenes. I used to squirm writing sex scenes. Sometimes I would even giggle aloud a bit.

Now I really enjoy it. It’s such a strange thing, but also quite liberating. But then there’s always the voice in the back of my head going your grandmother is going to read this!! Which makes me go a little bit funny and make me want to go back to PGness.

As subject matter, writing about sex and trash and treasure are probably tenuously linked. What am I trying to say? That there is beauty in baseness… in the carnal…? Na, I don’t know. Bedtime. Time for my self-hypnosis freebie. 

One small parting example of why I love the internet, though, from earlier this evening. I was looking for images of trash and treasure. So I googled ‘beautiful trash’ and what should come up but a picture of Kim Kardashian. Priceless.

* Adam Greenfield used this term in his session at Webstock a couple of weeks ago and I instantly resolved to steal it. He was one smart, smart dude.



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